Find­ing top-tier tal­ent is hard on a good day, but with unem­ploy­ment in the US sit­ting under 4%, it’s even more chal­leng­ing than ever.


5 min read

Opin­ions expressed by Entre­pre­neur con­trib­u­tors are their own.


Unem­ploy­ment in the US is sit­ting under 4%, which means that human cap­i­tal has become a scarce resource. As an employ­er, that means that you should be doing every­thing that you can to attract, devel­op and retain the best pos­si­ble employ­ees. There are many mis­takes that employ­er make with hir­ing that are avoid­able are avoid­able. Avoid these five mis­takes, and you’ll be on your way to find­ing the right peo­ple every time: 

1. Avoid “Superstar” and “Ninja” job titles 

There is a trend towards com­pa­nies try­ing to attract young tal­ent by using job titles like “Nin­ja,” “Rock­star,”
“Super­star” and “Guru” among oth­ers. While there is undoubt­ed­ly some mer­it to using these titles to out­ward­ly iden­ti­fy that your work­place cul­ture does­n’t take things too seri­ous­ly, there are a few down­sides. First, the job title does­n’t give any indi­ca­tion what the role is actu­al­ly like. As an exam­ple, Microsoft has a “Viceroy of Galac­tic Research Excel­lence” which sounds fun but at a glance gives no impres­sion of what they might do beyond research. Sec­ond, most peo­ple don’t search these words when look­ing for jobs and as such, using one won’t increase the num­ber of peo­ple who see your job. In short, it sim­ply con­fus­es peo­ple! If you need a fur­ther rea­son to avoid these titles; research shows women, vis­i­ble minori­ties and peo­ple over 40 are less like­ly to apply to jobs with these titles which cuts out a sig­nif­i­cant por­tion of the tal­ent pool

Relat­ed: Hir­ing — 4 Ways Small Busi­ness­es Can Attract and Retain Young Tal­ent

2. Stop ghosting candidates 

For the unfa­mil­iar, ghost­ing refers to fin­ish­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with­out giv­ing the can­di­date an update on their appli­ca­tion sta­tus unless you explic­it­ly indi­cat­ed that you would­n’t fol­low up. While you might think “If they’re not going to work here, why should I care?” it’s essen­tial to main­tain effec­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion with can­di­dates because an excel­lent can­di­date expe­ri­ence is a part of build­ing your employ­ment brand. If some­one has a mis­er­able expe­ri­ence, they will poten­tial­ly share it online, tell their friends and oth­er prospec­tive can­di­dates who may be the right fit for your role. 

3. Don’t confuse employer branding with company culture 

Let­ting poten­tial employ­ees know about your work­place cul­ture is an essen­tial part of estab­lish­ing your employ­er brand­ing, but it’s not every­thing. Employ­er brand­ing is broad­er, includ­ing every­thing from your Glass­door reviews to the word­ing of your job descrip­tion and your total com­pen­sa­tion pro­gram. High­light your engaged team mem­bers, funky meet­ing rooms, and dog-friend­ly work­place but don’t miss out on the pub­lic side of the recruit­ment process. Respond to reviews on recruit­ment web­sites, con­sid­er the can­di­date expe­ri­ence as they move through the hir­ing process. It always helps to have oth­er peo­ple tell the sto­ry of how great you are; con­sid­er apply­ing for some ‘Best Work­place’ awards and ask­ing your employ­ees to post reviews online.   

Relat­ed: Hir­ing Best Prac­tices — Tran­si­tion­ing From Solo­pre­neur to a Team Leader

4. Avoid hunting for unicorns 

When you post a role, you’re like­ly to have a rough idea of what the per­fect can­di­date would look like. They’re every­thing that you want — job skills, inter­per­son­al skills, lead­er­ship capa­bil­i­ty — the whole gamut. How­ev­er, the ide­al can­di­date does­n’t exist — they’re a uni­corn. This is even more impor­tant to con­sid­er the US’ high unem­ploy­ment rate. The odds of find­ing that per­fect can­di­date is extreme­ly low, and you might miss a dia­mond in the rough if you set your bar too high and your cri­te­ria too nar­row. If you keep skip­ping over suit­able can­di­dates to find this uni­corn, you lose time, pro­duc­tiv­i­ty, and ulti­mate­ly take on some of that stress your­self. To avoid this pit­fall, make sure to under­stand the dif­fer­ence between what you want and what you need from can­di­dates and hire peo­ple who are excel­lent with poten­tial — not per­fect. 

5. Stop wasting time 

When you’re plan­ning your inter­view process, tar­get how many can­di­dates you’d like to inter­view at each stage, and how long those inter­views take, don’t leave it to chance. Sched­ul­ing full inter­views will all can­di­dates that pass your pri­ma­ry screen wastes a sig­nif­i­cant amount of time and resources. The best approach is to front­load any parts of your recruit­ment process that are short or “make-or-break” to make it the most effi­cient that it can be. Phone screens are a Hir­ing Manager’s best friend, a 5–10 minute video call will rule out a sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of can­di­dates, sav­ing you and the can­di­date pre­cious time so you can focus on the strong con­tenders.  

Relat­ed: Start­ing Your Busi­ness: The Tools, Hir­ing Prac­tices and Mind­set You Need to Suc­ceed

Hiring doesn’t have to be stressful

By avoid­ing these pit­falls, you will fill your roles more quick­ly and help build your organization’s rep­u­ta­tion as an employ­er who treats peo­ple well, which will attract the can­di­dates you are look­ing for. 

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